(1) A person who,
without lawful excuse, publishes defamatory matter concerning another living
knowing the matter to be false or being recklessly indifferent as to whether
the matter is true or false; and
intending to cause serious harm, or being recklessly indifferent as to whether
the publication of the defamatory matter will cause serious harm, to a person
(whether the person defamed or not),
is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty: Imprisonment for 3 years.
(2) A person charged
with an offence against this section has a lawful excuse for the publication
of the defamatory matter concerning the other person if the person charged
would, having regard only to the circumstances happening before or at the time
of the publication, have a defence to an action for damages for defamation if
such an action were instituted against him or her by the other person in
respect of the publication of the defamatory matter.
(3) On a trial before
a jury of an information for an offence against this section—
question whether the matter published is capable of bearing a defamatory
meaning is a question for determination by the judge; and
question whether the matter published does bear a defamatory meaning is a
matter for the jury; and
jury may give a general verdict of guilty or not guilty on the issues as a
(4) Proceedings for an
offence against this section must not be commenced without the consent of the
Director of Public Prosecutions.
(5) In any proceedings
for an offence against this section, a certificate apparently signed by the
Director of Public Prosecutions certifying his or her consent to the
proceedings is, in the absence of proof to the contrary, to be accepted as
proof of the Director's consent.